This was our team’s second season and, so far, we’ve gotten by with just mechanical systems. This summer, we want to expand and learn how to use pneumatics. Before our vouchers expire next week, we want to use our Clippard PDV. What would be some useful equipment to purchase with it?
Tubing is available on Clippard and is always useful to have (annoying to run out of!)
Typically we buy air tank mounting brackets with our credit but if you don’t have any air tanks, here are the ones we buy (also available on AndyMark).
Apart from Clippard, we are going to be using these tiny and super cute pressure gauges and pressure regulators from AutomationDirect. Use their credit as well if you haven’t yet (assuming it hasn’t expired). While they are awesome and usually ship a tubing cutter with orders, get one of these because you never wanna cut tubing without one (no one I know likes having slow leaks).
You need something to hold the air you’re going to use. If i remember the voucher is for 25, i think its worth the 5 extr abucks for a second tank (either for on board the primary robot or for practice bot).
A couple things that helped a lot. The biggest was going to solenoids that are not piloted. Many of the solenoids will not work below 45 psi. Our next big improvement was going to 5/32 tubing. We used 1/4 to feed our manifold and went to 5/32 from there out. The manifold we used is a 7 port that is about 2 inches long and weighs only a couple of ounces.
At state this year we went to a practice match first thing in the day and realized that we had not charged our air. We still had 50 psi on our working side from the night before. and 70 in on the main tank
The smaller line may not work well for large cylinders, but the 1" dia and smaller with 7 inch or less stroke that we use, is no problem
The best value is Automation Direct single solenoid, 5-way. They’re much larger and flow more then the Festo that AM sells, but sometimes larger is difficult. Also at $22, easier to ‘stock’ than the $89 Festo.
Getting air cylinders with coupons is fine, but you nearly always end up needing to get a special length, bore, magnet or cushion that makes them more specific for a design. Better to not have the ‘wrong’ ones hanging around, just buy them specific for your needs. Cylinders are very expensive too.
Tanks and regulators and fittings, gauges are great, but they’re nearly always available free from FirstChoice before the season. You can look at last year’s FirstChoice here: https://firstchoicebyandymark.com/everything
+1 on those Automation Direct solenoids, they work great. I would recommend the double solenoids instead of the single because from my team’s experience they are easier to program, but both are a good value.
Something that hasn’t been brought up in this thread is the design ideas that you need to have when using pneumatics.
Obviously you’ll need to know how to calculate the force that pistons can exert at a given pressure.
The important thing that is easy to mess up, is you need to be sure to design your mechanical/pneumatic system to not put any side-loading on the piston rod, or you can risk destroying the piston.
Essentially design your system so it is fully constrained except for one axis of motion, and then add your piston there. If your system has more than one degree of freedom, you risk bending your piston.